Progress Is In The Eye Of The Writer
Drafting a book of any kind requires much consideration. There are so many things to think about and so many variables to contend with. Newbies may have a difficult time keeping track of so many important details. I know I did. At times I got hung up on the myriad of book must-haves, got lost in a sea of grammar rules, worried ad nauseum about where my novel fit in the many genres out there, stressed about whether my word count was on point, concerned I wasn't dropping in enough sensory details, and I waded through a host of other particulars. While these elements are significant factors of the writing journey and path to publication, I made the mistake of focusing too much of my energy on those matters which left me feeling as if I wasn’t making enough progress.
Then it dawned on me; progress is in the eye of the beholder or the writer, and progress is different for every writer.
I began to view things in a new way. Instead of focusing on writing mechanics and rules, I chose to look for progress in all its forms. I soon realized that in doing this, I was making progress.
One of the first things I remember doing that I didn’t even realize was progress was brainstorming fiction novel ideas. I had a few circling my mind, but I formalized them by writing them down. This made them real. I was on the road to acknowledging progress! Woot-woot!
For every book idea I generated, came a surfeit of particulars. Cue the sticky notes and categories. Every time my brain pinged with a new detail, onto the sticky note it went then it was tossed into the basket labeled with its corresponding category. Progress at its finest!
Brainstorming doesn’t end with a book idea. Continue the process for choosing character names. Character names are just as important as the characters themselves. In my opinion it’s a plus if the name you choose rolls off the tongue easily. What’s in a name? Well, plenty. The names I assign to my characters must have meaning. Researching the meaning of certain names helps me choose the best moniker. I like my fictional characters to live up to their name. Selecting just the right name, even if I end up changing it, means I’m forging ahead and that equals progress! Y to the I to the PP-EE! Yippee!
We’re on a progress roll so let’s free-associate titles. This works for an article, short story, novel, or narrative of any kind. Dreaming up a fresh and unique title that’s not too long and is easy to say aloud demonstrates advancement on the writing journey. Woo-hoo, progress!
Hey, did you think I’d stop there? Does any writer? Scribbling, yes, that's what I said. I moved onto keeping a notebook for each of my manuscripts as well as a notebook on my my bedside table. Scribbling notes and jotting down thoughts is making headway. Heavens to murgatroyd who'd a thunk it?
If you're a doodler that works too. Doodling enhances creative thought. Doodling is not a waste of time. When one doodles one often enters a different mental state that resides someplace between awareness and daydreaming. Doodling is relaxing and allows things in the back of the mind to travel to the forefront. For some, doodling is like meditation. Doodling is more mindlessness than mindfulness but each can lead to manifestation. Ah, sweet progress!
Outlines either trigger anxiety which causes some to shrink away from bothering with them or they are embraced wholeheartedly. Even a rough outline in your head or on paper indicates evolution on the writing journey. If you’re an outliner give yourself a pat on the back. You're in the progress lane. Mind blown!
Something important for all writers and aspiring authors that’s often overlooked by newbies, is to read. Read books in the genre you intend to write in, of course, but also read books in other genres. This practice is not only enjoyable but provides countless writing voices, ideas, styles, plot possibilities, and new concepts for scenes and storylines. Not to mention the vocab boost that goes along with reading. Reading is growing and growing is progress! Word!
Let’s have a conversation about goals. Though shattering your writing goals is the ultimate progress, writing goals don’t have to be complicated or time consuming, they can be easy-peasy. While a noble goal may entail meeting a deadline, it might also be as simple as writing a paragraph or editing a chapter or more. Going through your manuscript with a fine-tooth comb and vanquishing clichés, busy words, redundancy, and overused words is progress beyond! You go girl or guy!
Research is a goal that almost always needs to be undertaken either before writing begins, or while an author is penning their story. Thanks to the internet, information is at our fingertips. So is searching for an agent which I also consider to be research. Doing both or one signifies progress. Yay! Shout out to progress!
Pivoting to progress that may be less tangible but just as significant is learning to step away from the laptop or pen and paper and take a break. Take a break GF or BF. Breaks are an essential tool in every writer’s arsenal. A moment of respite can do wonders for sparking ideas. Take a breather by going for a walk or run, listening to music, relaxing in a bubble bath or long shower, eating a nutritious meal, breaking up the monotony with some jumping-jacks, calling a friend, or hitting the remote to watch your favorite show. Breaks help writers to see things with fresh eyes. Never underestimate the power of a much-needed break. All work and no play can stall creativity and progress. Oh, my, we don't want that! Stay on the progress trail!
Part of growing as a writer is knowing that accomplishments, big and small, are worth celebrating. Do you daydream about starting a blog? Yeppers, daydreaming is progress. Now take inspired action and voilà, double the progress. Did you create an author Facebook, Instagram, or other social media page? Outstanding! Maybe you designed a writing meme. You are working it! Say what? You made an author website? Divine, darling! When new writers and aspiring authors learn to rejoice in their achievements, they are progressing. Praise the progress! Hallelujah!
Writing something, anything, is progress. Don’t forget it! You wrote a sentence today? Awesome! You finished a chapter? Fantastic! You came up with the perfect title? Impressive! You started the self-editing process? Amazing! Keep going, keep celebrating, keep writing!
Above all else, you must reach the finish line. Don’t stop until you do. That’s supreme progress. A finished first draft might be messy, but it can be fixed, trimmed, spiced up, rearranged, or added to. Even if you have to let your WIP marinate in a drawer for a bit, finish it. Leaving your manuscript unfinished does nothing for fulfilling your dream of becoming a published author. Nada, zilch. You possess the power to make your dream a reality, whether through traditional publication or by self-publishing. Go for it! Please don’t allow your dreams to linger. Let your fingers do the typing and take note of your progress. Happy, happy, joy, joy!